Depression not caused by chemical imbalance, say scientists
New research casts doubt over widespread use of antidepressants after finding that there is no clear evidence that depression is caused by low serotonin levels. © Dominic Lipinski Researchers say people suffering with depression should consider options other than antidepressants The new review of existing studies found that the condition is not likely caused by a chemical imbalance and said people should be made aware of other options for treating depression.
Prescribing outdoor swimming for depression is going to be trialled as an alternative to medication. © Associated Press Pic: AP
Scientists want to examine the benefits for people with mental illness offered by ecotherapy - therapeutic intervention through nature.
Experts from the University of Portsmouth will be working with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust to examine how a dip in nature compares to antidepressants.
Exercise is already recommended by the NHS as a means to help with low moods for people who suffer with depression.
Immersion in cold water has been shown to reduce stress levels, and a search is on for volunteers for the new study who will take part in a swimming course.
No ‘clear evidence’ depression caused by chemical imbalance as study casts doubt on anti-depressant use
There is no clear evidence that depression is caused by low serotonin levels, researchers have said, as they called into question the widespread use of antidepressants. © The study has revealed no evidence that depression is caused by low serotonin levels. Picture: David... The new review of existing studies found the condition is not likely caused by a chemical imbalance and said people should be made aware of other options for treating depression.
Swimming lessons will take place at Parliament Hill in London, Lenches Lake in Worcestershire, and Saunton in north Devon.
The results of the swimmers will be compared against a control group using existing treatments for depression.
It comes as scientists and doctors re-examine their understanding of depression following research that suggested some of the mechanics of how the condition worked may be incorrect.
A spokesman for the University of Portsmouth said: "The study, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), will provide preliminary support for using outdoor swimming as an alternative to antidepressants or talking therapies."
Co-author Dr Heather Massey, from the University of Portsmouth's Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, said: "In this new study we are looking at outdoor swimming as part of social prescribing, which looks to support members of the community who are self-referred or referred by a number of professional organisations to community activities that will support them.
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"It's a step up in terms of scientific rigour."
The mental health charity Mind already recommends ecotherapy.
Its website says: "Ecotherapy is a formal type of therapeutic treatment which involves doing outdoor activities in nature."
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK
The Samaritans offer support and advice to people feeling suicidal or vulnerable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their website is https://www.samaritans.org, email address [email protected] or call free on 116 123
Inside the UK’s new psychedelic drug trial clinic trying to treat depression and anxiety .
Interest in psilocybin as treatment is growing, and this month Europe’s first commercial facility for psychedelic trials opens in London“I was in a desperate place,” Ali recalls. “I had tried all sorts of therapies and medications. I was on really high doses. I think my mental health team didn’t know what else to do with me.” In 2019, Ali joined a trial being run by David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, and Robin Carhart-Harris, head of Imperial’s Centre for Psychedelic Research, testing the impact of psilocybin – the main active ingredient in magic mushrooms – alongside psychotherapy, in 59 people with moderate to severe depression.